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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Over the River and Through the Woods...

As the holidays approach, Thanksgiving in particular, I'm trying to maintain what I call an "attitude of gratitude." It's not easy - this is the most stressful time of year for most of us, and our fuses tend to be shorter than usual. Well, mine does, at least.

One of the biggest things that tends to get people's panties into bunches is the thought of traveling for the holidays. You start to hear complaints like, "I'm dreading dealing with airport security," or "2.5 hours on a plane with a toddler is going to be a nightmare," or "That 8-hour drive to my folks' house will be torture."

I am so guilty of complaining about travel. I was so happy two years ago when I was too pregnant to travel for the holidays. It was pure bliss to cook for Eric and myself, watch the parades in our jammies and decorate the Christmas tree with cups of hot chocolate in hand. And the only place we had to go on Christmas Day itself was a mile up the road...to the hospital...because I had the baby on Christmas Day :)

But thinking about travel this year -- driving to the in-laws for Thanksgiving and then flying to my hometown for Christmas -- started to get me all hyped up. You can usually just put a giant "UGH" above my head if the topic comes up. However, as I contemplated this blog post, I decided to research truly nightmarish travel, and I can't think of any worse conditions than the people of the Mayflower suffered as they set out to settle the new world...our world.

Fun Facts about the Mayflower:

1. There were no passenger ships in that day, so they all had to get comfy in a space designed for cargo...on beds of hay...next to complete strangers...although, I guess they weren't strangers for long! Sharing morning breath kicks things up to a new level of intimacy really quick!

2. Dinner was usually salt-beef, salt-pork or salt-fish...mmmm! But wait...on salt-fish days you got a little piece of cheese (lucky bastards!) Oh, and don't forget about the oh-so-delicious-ever-lasting ship's biscuits! These puppies stayed "good" for up to 5 whole years...I just hope no one tried to bite into them without dunking them first. Ouch!

3. There were no bathrooms! Yes, I know what you're thinking: Awesome! It was a free-for-all! Well, not quite. Each family had their own chamberpot that got emptied occasionally.

4. Since they didn't have terribly precise navigation tools, they ended up landing 200 miles north of where they originally intended. Crap! "Sorry, everybody! I know we've spent 66 days aboard this uncomfortable and disease-ridden ship, but...well, you're gonna have to get back on. We're not quite there yet."

5. The cost for all this luxury? The equivalent of $1,000 in today's money. I couldn't find out if that was per person or per family, but either way, that's a lot of blunt for the 50/50 chance you had of surviving the whole ordeal.

So what have I taken away from all of this?

1. I will not complain about not being able to recline my seatback on my 2-hour flight due to the fact that I was put at the back of the plane where seatbacks don't recline...or about my back being sore after the 2-hour drive to my in-laws. I could be sleeping in a cargo hold for 66 days next to an open-mouth sleeper.

2. I will not complain about the overpriced, crap food at the airports or the stingy supply of peanuts and pretzels on the plane. I could be eating 5-year-old biscuits and salt-fish for 2 months straight.

3. I will definitely not complain about the tiny airplane bathrooms that smell funny or the grimy gas station bathrooms on the highway. I could be doing my beeswax in a pot of my entire family's beeswax that wouldn't get emptied until next Tuesday!

4. I won't complain when Eric misses our exit and takes us three miles out of the way. It could be 200.

5. I won't complain about the cost of gas or the fact that we now have to drop a little extra dough on a plane seat for our toddler. It's still cheaper than the Mayflower, and a lot more comfy!

So, when you start to stress over the trivialities of traveling this holiday season, just remember what the pilgrims so selflessly went through so that one day we would be able to do our beeswax in our own toilets, in a free country.

What will you not complain about this holiday season?? Leave a comment and be entered into The Christmas Summons Prize Extravaganza!

-Jerrica, Her Grace of Grammar


  1. What?!?! I can't complain? LOL. But that's one of my better talents. I'm sooo good at it. :)

    Actually - as I just got off a plane last night (4.5 hours) in the middle seat on the back row (which means smaller seats that don't recline) next to a man who bathed as often as I'm sure they did on the Mayflower - today might not be the best day to ask me. ;)

    But if we're talking HOLIDAY travel... Well then, I have nothing to complain about. A very generous local author has invited my son and me to spend Thanksgiving with her family. (So I'll have lots of interesting conversations to either join in or listen to. Other people's family dynamics are much more amusing than your own.) And for Christmas this year - even though I won't have my son, as it's his father's year to have him - I plan to spend a nice, quiet day by a fire with a good book.

    So no complaining at the holidays for me. But the rest of the year is wide open.;)

  2. I don't travel at the holidays. LOL. It is a personal promise I've made myself. Either friends and family can come and see me, or I'll enjoy the holiday on my own by volunteering my time and resources...but I won't be traveling.

    I started that back when I went to school in Houston for a year. We had classes the morning of the day before Thanksgiving, or else I would have left sometime Tuesday afternoon. I still thought about skipping out on Wednesday morning classes, but one of my profs decided to give a test that day. Yeah, couldn't skip. So, I got on the first bus heading up to the DFW area out of Houston on Wednesday afternoon.

    Which was two hours late in leaving. Still, I figured I could make a different connection and still get home at a reasonable time. But...what should have taken 20 minutes, getting north out of Houston, instead took 4 and a half hours.

    By the time I got to the bus station in Dallas to make my connection, it was about midnight, and the next connection wasn't scheduled until three a.m., and I was scared of all the shifty-eyed people wandering around the Dallas bus station in the middle of the night. I called my Mom, and she drove out to get me.

    That's the last time I have traveled at the holidays. And I won't be doing it again. :) If you want to see me, feel free to make the trip. I'm not leaving, though.

  3. Ava, that sounds delightful! And I fully expect to hear your diva complaints the rest of the year! Lol!

  4. Catherine, the problem is that the rest of my family has your mentality, so we have no choice but to be the ones who drop the dough and travel on both Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve. I hope one day they'll give but in the meantime, we're SOL. Lol.

  5. Poor Mayflowery people!

    I like travelling, but usually the longest distance I have to go is three hours away.

    Hot Builder and I travel *around* Christmas, but stay home for Christmas eve night and day. It's important to us (especially him) that our kids don't feel rushed and we as a family enjoy our time together.

    However, we do leave the house for Thanksgiving, or invite everyone over to ours.

  6. I love to complain about holiday travel regardless :) Usually for us it involves either a Transatlantic flight, hopelessly non-child friendly accommodations, or both! This year we are doing Thanksgiving at a hotel couple of hours away with another family that is also sort of "skipping" Thanksgiving. Christmas is a whole other story though, Sweden, and although we have a seat for Mia, the airline pretty much doesn't allow anything bigger than an infant carseat on board, so I am already having nightmares about that long flight!

  7. Well, I was going to complain about the price of flying across the country. I am sending my two youngest to visit the oldest for a week a few days after Christmas, but now I feel bad. No, wait. I am not the one traveling. Can I still complain about the cost? ;).

  8. Marquita, that's a great idea to stay home on Christmas Eve and day...I wish we had that option!

  9. Dawn, you totally win -- two kids on a Transatlantic flight -- I'm always in awe of how you do it. But I know as well as anyone how important it is to be with family on Christmas, so we do what we have to do. And your Thanksgiving sounds so super awesome!! Have fun!

  10. Amy, no! You can't complain about anything! You get to stay home! LOL!

  11. I don't travel on holidays. When my son was young, my husband drove from Ft Bragg to Southern IL the day after Christmas to visit his family. His father smoked like a chimney, and I couldn't cope. I don't mind paying for my family to come visit me though.

  12. You're making me glad that I don't have to suffer through Thanksgiving, Jerrica, LOL. Christmas is tough enough for me.